Saturday, March 3, 2012

One Year

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It's been a year since we had our official diagnosis of Fragile X for Ayden and what a year it has been!  I was just reading through my first post about how Ayden has been developing, and even though I knew he had made large strides it's amazing to see how I felt a year ago compared to how I feel now.  I am not going to dwell much on sadness or feelings from that day a year ago - because we continue to look forward.  Each day is a new day, each task is a struggle in a different way.  Looking back does no good but to stir up feelings of guilt and anxiety for me.  That just isn't how I want to spend these years, they go so quickly.  So...let me go over how Ayden is doing!

Screaming - A year ago, we had minor screaming fits.  Now, I see even less.  We have a decent amount of temper tantrums, but we've found those to mostly be the normal 4.5 year old "I'm not getting what I want" tantrums, minus words of course.  A huge break though for us occurred when we began implementing YES and NO cards for Ayden (via PECS).  He understands these well, so giving a NO card to him and having him throw a tantrum is much easier for us to know how to handle.  It's the differentiation between knowing he's not frustrated we don't understand him and that he is angry because we said no.  Before those cards, it was a guessing game and as we continues to work on dealing with the behavior of the tantrums they continue to get much better.

Communication - As I mentioned in my first post, communication goes hand in hand with screaming/whining/tantrum issues we have with Ayden.  We introduced Ayden to PECS at home over this past year and he is successfully communicating wants/needs via sentences right now - and not just to mom and dad! Just this past weekend, he used his book to request something from his Aunt.  It was such a proud mommy moment!!  We still don't use PECS exclusively for Ayden's communication, but instead use it in combination with some signs and pointing when we don't have a card available for what he wants.  Ayden's understanding of communicating though is so much better.  He will figure out a way to tell us what he wants most of the time, even by stringing two cards together that really shouldn't go together, but in a way that we understand them.  He really has made some fantastic strides that keep both him and us infinitely happier.  As of today, he can also say some words "on command" which is also a very big deal for us.  We've seen words come and go, but never was he able to say them when requested or in response to questions.  We're hoping this time it sticks around.

Food - we still struggle with Ayden on mouth stuffing a lot.  I've tried a decent amount of the "tricks" for FX kids with this issue to no avail.  Same thing with silverware - with the exception being he CAN use silverware now (though not perfect) but refuses to most of the time.  We're hoping that with the use of silverware the mouth stuffing becomes much less prevalent.  He is also beginning to explore even more foods, and eating like a growing boy.  He certainly can pack food away!!

Sensory - We have slowly worked on sensory issues over the past year, and it is helping!  He still has pauses at  walking on different surfaces, but he actually will do it.  We also have successfully use a few exercises to calm him down with the exercise ball as well as the use of a bean bag chair.  It's not perfect, but it certainly is manageable.  Most of the time, he will at least attempt to do what we ask him now without much prodding (or bribery!).  In turn, he's found a decent amount of things he likes doing.

Anxiety - While we've never had terrible anxiety issues with Ayden, the situations where his anxiety runs high have become SO much better!!  He now will usually walk into large crowds, attempt things that are outside of his comfort zone etc without breaking down.  I can't even remember the last time he totally lost it because of his anxiety at new people/situations.  He also will deal with situations differently.  Instead of screaming, he'll quite often just shake his head NO and turn and walk away.  It's pretty amazing to be around him in those situations because I remember how hard certain things were for him and how he dealt with it.

Social - Here's a new category for this year's "round-up".  I don't even know where to begin explaining where Ayden was socially last year other then to say, socially he basically did no interaction with others.  Mom and Dad have always been a different story..but he was perfectly content to sit in a corner and spin a toy rather than play with other kids.  This is easily the area Ayden has made the most strides in this year.  He now plays with other people (kids and adults) and attempts to interact as well.  He will enter a room and give hugs to familiar people, try to get them to play with him, and has even begun initiating peek-a-boo just recently.  Much to mom and dad's excitement, he also has started participating / initiating some pretend play.  He makes stuffed animals wave/talk which really is just AMAZING.

So..that's my year in review for Ayden.  We have some large decisions coming up in the next few months that I think will really determine the course for him as far as schooling goes for a little while at least.  Essentially, the decision of sending him to kindergarten or holding him in the ECSE classroom - but the decision is much more complicated then that.   I'm very much looking forward to another year of progress and just watching him grow with his little brother and new baby sister.  FX is definitely a part of our family, but it is in no way carving our path for us.  We continue to carve our own path, and do what we can to make life the best we can for Ayden as well as his little brother and sister.


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